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Solving Problems and Challenging the Status Quo with pARTnerships

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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When entering a new year, many individuals and businesses alike desire a fresh start.  In personal lives, the changes may appear in a new diet or workout routine while at work it may be goal setting or performance evaluations.  Keeping with the idea of crafting new habits and letting go of outdated approaches, there’s a space for the arts to help advance goals by solving some of yesterday’s problems and challenging the “modus operindi”.

 

These three highlights below are a quick reminder of the possibilities of art and business partnerships that are successful and purposeful.

 

In the work environment, consider that working solely for productivity can become lackluster.

A company or industry that is technology-heavy or project-focused, may find that team performance needs a boost. Altering a method, adding Arts into STEM to become STEAM, can improve the process for businesses grounded in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math. One thing that Denis Lacasse, leader in web, software, and gaming fields, and his team instituted was bringing together employees of different disciplines and backgrounds. When these new teams, comprised of artists, game designers, and engineers, worked together their productivity and zeal increased due to their common connection of being passionate gamers focused on an end goal.

 

Consider that people want to live and work in a vibrant community.

In one Philadelphia neighborhood, there was a general understanding that the area was not safe at night, even with street lights. Although near a bustling bar and cheesesteak restaurant scene, the late-night hours of the neighborhood were either extremely desolate or filled with prostitution, underage drinking and dumping trash. Lighting designer Drew Billiau and mural artist David Guinn were able to pilot glowing street-art-styled murals on a few homes which began a neighborhood transformation all its own. Although there was reluctance from some neighbors in the beginning, the success of the initial glowing murals cultivated enough support to add more on the street for increased safety.

 

Consider that internal culture and external messaging often get old and stale. 

When seeking a way to renew a message (either internally to employees or externally to the public), remember to integrate the arts as a business asset.  By using Arts-Based Initiatives, “businesses can generate value from existing relationships with the arts, as well as an opportunity to establish new relationships, by exploiting the knowledge and skills within the sector for their own competitive advantage.” Investment firm, Scottish Windows, did just that by developing an Arts@Work program that injected arts into company culture and employees reported increased productivity and business benefits.  ABI's are suited for enhancing company messaging and company culture to overall posivitely affect business objectives and strategies. 

 

More information on bringing the arts into a business approach can be found in the pARTnership Movement essays

 

If you know of a business successfully pARTnering with the arts, please nominate them for the 2017 BCA: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts. Nomiations close January 13, 2017.

 

Photo credit: Fast Company

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Technical Creativity: How Science and Art are Picking Up STEAM

Posted by Chris Zheng
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Technical Creativity: How Science and Art are Picking Up STEAM

In the left versus right brain debate, business is traditionally pushed to the left. But the true answer, much like the compromise needed in a business deal, lies somewhere in between. Corporations and businesses have increasingly listed creative thinking as a primary desired skill alongside more traditionally expected skills like technical literacy and statistical analysis. In the same vein, educators are realizing that the tenants of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are not mutually exclusive with the world of the arts. Now, the movement’s momentum is shifting from STEM to STEAM, an incorporation of Art and Design into a traditionally scientific focus on learning.

 

Qualcomm Technologies engineer Molly Nicholas detailed this shift in a recent blog post where she reflects on the risk businesses run when they ignore the arts: “like the challenges professional engineers face, inspiring kids to consider careers in STEM requires a multi-faceted approach. A one-size-fits-all mindset misses wide swaths of future coders. It misses freeform, creative, artful thinkers. It almost missed me.”

 

The post goes on to detail the first market to catch on to the transition towards arts-oriented engineering: toy manufacturers. For instance, the LilyPad consists of a system of Arduino-based circuits which can be sewn into backpacks, dresses, pillows, and stuffed animals. Circuit Scribe allows users to actually doodle circuits using conductive ink. These toys bridge the gap between STEM and STEAM, creating open platforms for craft and expression through the means of basic electrical engineering.

 

The necessity of pairing a technical understanding with a creative one cannot be undersold. Different methods of thinking empower engineers, scientists, and coders to define boundaries and eventually break them. As Nicholas explains, “a hardware engineer, for instance, might not be pushed to advance and adapt technologies without creative minds to test the limits. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how powerful your processor is if no one's using it for anything.”

 

The scientific field is not the only beneficiary in this partnership. Artists who learn the skills of computation improve their ability to recognize patterns, solve open-ended questions, and break large problems down into manageable sets. Through this cognitive development, an artist can explore an expanded field of thought, where “a painter trained in computational thinking may invent a new type of paintbrush that enables unique modes of expression. Or a theatrical costume designer might develop a method to make her creations modular and reusable.”

 

The idea of a symbiotic relationship between the arts and science is not a new idea. However, the integration of the arts and the execution of STEAM is a cause that needs continued support. Through this acceptance, you might be surprised to see just how many engineers have a creative mind, and how many artists have a scientific drive.  

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